Can Hamsters Eat Cheese? 5 Important Things to Consider
As a new hamster owner, you might be wondering what food can hamsters eat. Feeding your pet quality food will make them healthy and live longer. Occasionally you can feed them treats like bananas, oranges, or strawberries. But how about cheese?
Can Pet Hamsters Eat Cheese?
Hamsters can eat cheese, however, it should be offered to them occasionally only as a treat. Hamsters will not eat all types of cheese, and some hamsters will refuse to eat cheese altogether because cheese is not part of their natural diet. Please note that, commercial cheese contains saturated fats, salt, and food flavors, that can cause digestive problems to your pet hamster.
Feeding Cheese to Pet Hamster
When considering the suitability of food items, it is crucial to assess the natural hamster diet. Wild hamsters sustain themselves on seeds, fruits, plants, and the occasional worms.
Pet owners should give hamsters pellets that are rich in proteins. While cheese seems like a great protein source, you should avoid it if you want to keep your hamster healthy.
Some pet owners give their pets cheese, however, in tiny quantities, and on rare occasions. Small pieces of cheese the size of a raisin will be more than enough for your hamster.
Too much cheese will result in rapid weight gain, constipation, and apathy. It is better to avoid cheese altogether and protect your pet’s health.
Is Cheese Bad or Toxic for Hamsters?
Cheese is often high in calories, which is why it can easily make your pet ill. If you have to give your hamster cheese, opt for one that is low in fat. Avoid the kind with a lot of salt and flavorings like garlic and onions.
Keep in mind that a hamster’s digestive system cannot handle a lot of saturated fats. Cheese is low in fiber, and it can cause constipation in your pet. The high sodium levels in cheese will make your hamster susceptible to kidney disease.
Some good choices include cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, pasteurized goat cheese, and mild cheddar. These options are low in fat, but they should still be given in little quantities.
Do not give your hamster blue cheese like Stilton as it is incredibly toxic; ingesting even a spoonful will result in severe poisoning.
Avoid cheese snacks as any junk food is unhealthy for hamsters. Cheese puffs, for example, are high in sodium and they can cause dehydration. Cheese balls have to be fried in oil and are therefore not recommended for hamsters.
When it comes to feeding hamsters, everything should be provided in moderation. hamsters need 5% fat and 16% protein, and cheese is rich in both.
If you have to give them cheese, offer as little as possible and maintain a balanced diet.
Is Cheese a Good Bait for Escaped Hamster?
Hamsters have a notorious reputation as escape artists, thanks to their curiosity to explore.
If your hamster is missing from their cage, the first thing to do is to identify the room they could be in. They will often hide in the room their cage is in.
Make a hamster trap with bait, container, and ramp and layer it with soft bedding. The trap will be effective if you use irresistible treats to lure in your pet.
Cheese has a strong smell that will attract hamsters, but it is safer to use peanuts or peanut butter.
Treats You Can Give Your Hamster
Treats should make up a mere 10% of your hamster’s diet, and they should not have excess sugar. Stick to healthy treats that you can prepare at home. Some good options include:
- Hard-boiled eggs – eggs will provide your hamster with protein, and you should give a slice once or twice a week. The egg should be left to boil for 10-15 minutes so that the middle is not runny.
- Mealworms – mealworms are another protein source that can be fed to hamsters. They are also high in fat, which is why they should be given in moderation to avoid obesity.
- Vegetables – hamsters like to gnaw on carrots which makes them perfect treats. Carrots are high in sugar, however, and you should provide half to one teaspoon every two days. Cucumbers offer vitamins and minerals, but they contain a lot of water. Give a small cube to your pet once a week to avoid diarrhea. Other veggies to consider are broccoli and cabbage.
- Fruits – hamsters love apples, but you should remove the seeds because they can easily choke on them. A quarter-teaspoon of the fruit given once a week will be enough. Hamsters will also appreciate blueberries, blackberries, and bananas. Fruits are rich in sugars, and they should be delivered in moderation.
- Chew sticks – organic chew sticks promote teeth and gum health and slow down the growth rate of a hamster’s front teeth. The recommended chew sticks are made from apple or pear wood. Ensure that store-bought chew sticks are free from sugar and harmful chemicals. Look out for sticks made with natural ingredients like oats and corn.
Foods You Should Avoid Feeding Your Hamster
Hamsters may be omnivorous, but there is a long list of harmful foods, including:
– Processed and junk foods
Processed foods are often loaded with sugars that can cause obesity in a hamster. Do not give your pet candy, cakes, soda, cookies, or chips as they can result in dehydration, stomach upsets, and constipation.
Look out for hidden sugars in names like fructose, glucose, and sucrose. Chocolate contains the alkaloid theobromine, which can cause circulatory problems.
– Tomatoes, potatoes, and beans
Tomatoes contain tomatine, an alkaloid that can result in digestive tract and neurologic issues. Potatoes and beans are rich in starch, which can cause dehydration in hamsters.
– Garlic, onions and spicy foods
Do not give your pet spicy veggies like bell peppers. Onions and garlic are too abrasive for a hamster’s delicate digestive system.
– Bitter almonds
Sweet almonds are safe for human and hamster consumption. However, bitter almonds produce cyanide which can quickly kill a hamster.
– Citrus fruits
Avoid lemon, pineapple, and lime as they are highly acidic. Your hamster will get stomach upsets and diarrhea if they ingest a lot of acids.
– Unwashed veggies
Wash all veggies and fruits to eliminate bacterial strains and pesticide residues.
Hamsters thrive on a diversified diet, but some foods will cause digestive problems. You can give hamsters cheese, but it is better to leave it out of your pet’s treats.
Cheese is rich in proteins, but it also has fats and salt. If you decide to offer your pet cheese anyway, look for options that are low in fat and flavorings.